When other women would ask me about what books to read my first go to book was always “Stone Butch Blues” by Leslie Feinberg. Leslie was a pioneer in the Butch world. To me she was the Butch of all Butches…King of the Kingdom. In 1993 when Stone Butch Blues hit the shelves many of us snatched it up and read it cover to cover a couple of times. Someone had finally written about what it was like to be Butch in the 80’s/early 90’s and done it with finesse and accuracy. The book was all inspiring to many Butches around the world. We finally had a sort of doctrine.
Leslie Feinberg died on Nov. 15, 2014 after a long battle with cancer. Having made the choice to move from Butch to Trans* in the journey, Leslie faced many obstacles and adversity, even among the LGBT community itself. I met hir once at a conference and was inspired to write my own stories because of her and her bravery and courage in writing Stone Butch Blues and hir living an authentic life despite it’s difficulties. Feinberg described hirself as a “white, working class, secular Jewish, transgender lesbian.” Feinberg preferred the use of “ze/hir” pronouns.
As a proud Butch I was personally inspired by Leslie’s story of Jess, the Butch in Stone Butch Blues. This book was very eye opening for me, and showed me that I was not alone in my feelings and in who I was in this world. It was also my first introduction to Butch-Femme culture and dynamics for the most part. It’s because of hir and other gifted Butch writers that I am brave enough to write my own stories today, and because of them I am out, proud and authentically Butch.
Stone Butch Blues is a novel written by transgender activist Leslie Feinberg. The novel won the 1994 Stonewall Book Award. It tells the story of a butch named Jess Goldberg, and the trials and tribulations she faces growing up in the United States before theStonewall riots. Published in 1993, the novel became an underground hit before surfacing into mainstream literature. It is generally regarded as a groundbreaking work on the subject of gender, and it is one of the best-known pieces of LGBT literature. The novel is a prominent portrait of butch and femme–culture in the late 1960s, as well as a coming-of-age story of the character Jess: a Jewish, working-class butch who runs from home as a teenager and becomes a part of gay subculture.
Feinberg’s last words were reported to be “Remember me as a revolutionary communist.
Thank you Leslie, and Rest in Peace.